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Monk's Corner
by
Ray Powers

*Level III Judge

*WOTC Tournament Organizer for Arizona & San Diego

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 Monk's Corner
The JSS World

By Ray "Monk" Powers
2.23.05

JSS Season is on its way. Well, its been on its way for a while, but I just ran my first one for this season. Let me tell you, I wish I was 15. These things are such a smoking deal! For $15 everyone gets the special foil promo card, and the top 8 also get another special foil promo card. Then the top 12 and under player who does not make top 8 gets one, and the bets sportsman gets one. So, before we go anywhere with prizes, the ten people have gotten some great foil prizes.

The let's go to the top 8. First place gets a box, plus a box of the next two sets as they come out. Second place gets a box, 3rd and 4th, half a box each, 5th through 8th, 9 packs each.

Oh, and then there's those TWO $500 scholarships for the top to players, and the invites to JSS Nationals. Seriously, how can this be a bad tournament?

(This, of course, is how the United States events work. I admit to know knowledge of other country JSS programs.)

The only thing I am a little bit unhappy about it is that the Rules Enforcement Level of the event is low considering, in all reality the prize pool is BETTER than that of a PTQ. This leads to some of the older kids being a little Rules Lawyerly around the younger kids, which is both aggravating and a bad influence. As a judge, I tend to make it very clear that I will err on the side of letting the little kid rule in these events, which helps a lot, but it still can be a problem sometimes. But I want the kids to have fun and enjoy these events, and think its worth pushing the older kids to stop trying to force the kids into ultra tight play at this level.

Of course, I'm not sure it matters for the most part. I can't tell you how many kids at my last event were playing what I call "kitchen Magic," with very few honoring of the exact timing system. Kids would Draw, untap, play a land, and do things like that throughout the day. In all honesty, if they opponent didn't care, and they were being somewhat clear, and there was no upkeep effects to mess things up, I didn't bother correcting them. I'd rather they have fun than listen to me give them 30 cautions for not untapping first.

Its kind of fun to see what goes on in these events, and the decks people play. I saw at least one person playing a precon with about 5 cards changed out, and a random sideboard. Three people player IronWorks, two of them making it to the top eight if I remember right. Tooth and Nail was there, as was Affinity of course. The most entertaining deck of the day was also the winner, a deck that uses Forbidden Orchid, Intruder Alarm, any card that makes a land a creature, and Fireball for the win. Combolicious and funny to watch go off.

I always thought Affinity was a pretty easy deck to play. The math is hard sometimes to figure out if you have enough damage plus loss of life to win, but overall its very much a 'drop you hand and swing' kind of deck. But the JSS seemed to prove that wrong for me as I watched player after player miscount their affinity, or if they had enough to kill their opponent. And apparently most JSS players in my region play Disciple of the Vault because he's a good vanilla 1/1 for one mana drop, not due to his scarily good ability in the Affinity deck. I saw over a dozen times that the Disciple decided not to make his opponent lose life when an artifact went to the graveyard. I also saw people who did not realize that Cranial Plating can be moved as an instant, because they could have easily killed their opponent with a quick change. I find it funny that I have always strongly advocated the banning of Disciple of the Vault, but after watching this event, I almost think he's not that dangerous if no one bothers to activate his ability.

Am I saying the JSS players are horrible? Well, obviously some of them are.
They are kids there to play for fun who enjoy the game, and they have every right to be as good or as bad as they want to be. You don't have to be good at Magic to enjoy the game, I am living proof of that. But, speaking as one of those guys who can most of the time SEE the right play, even if I don't always do the right play, its always interesting to watch the weird plays people do and try to understand why they do it. On of the Ironworks players, on turn three, laid his third land, with only three land and nothing else on the board, and no counterspells in hand, and passed the turn instead of casting the Fabricate he had in hand for a piece. His opponent is playing white weenie, and already had three creatures on the board, so there was a bit of time criticality going on, but for some reason he decided not to start assembling his puzzle as fast as he could, perhaps faking the counter, but really, do you think WW cares? So you counter one of its creatures, the other three are still hitting your face this turn, and they probably can drop two this turn anyways to make sure you die between turns five and six.

Who knows?

Still, everyone seemed to have a great time, and the only downer to the event was the fact that there always seems to be one bad apple in the crowd.

One group of kids left shortly after the top eight began, taking with them another kids book bag full of cards. Although we tried to catch up with them, we missed, but lucky us, one of that group of kids was in my top 8, so I have his information to track them down. Although we are pretty sure its not that kid, we'll know who his friends are and go from there. I can not describe my hatred towards people who steal, especially from other kids who barely have property of their own, and for whom these cards are often their best or only way of relating with their friends. The lack of respect people have for each other's property is astonishing, and if I had my way, theft of another player's property, in addition to any legal ramifications, would include life time suspension from DCI sanctioned events. There is no excuse for this behavior. Shame on anyone who even thinks it.

As a funny side note, I am typing this article while running my very last Wiz Kids event. This event is a Wiz Kids Prerelease, which also somehow is a regional qualifier for an event much like a Grand Prix for Magic. Yes, that's right, the Prerelease, halfway through, turns constructed, and then turns into a regional qualifier, BUT ONLY FOR THE TOP 16 and previously locally qualified players. Sound confusing? Well, add on to that the fact that WizKids never actually bothered to tell me this, and I was caught completely blind by it the day before the event when a player started asking me questions I could not answer.

Oh, and they under shipped me product, so I didn't have enough prizes for everyone.

Have I mentioned how happy I am that I am going back to only working for Wizards of the Coast?

See you next week!

Ray

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